By Andrew Gretchko
June 12, 2018
America loves a rags to riches story. Rising from the bottom to the top - much like cream in coffee -- is ubiquitous with the nation’s longtime dream, even if it’s often a goal far out of reach for the vast majority of the population. Those that accomplish this fete are often (rightfully) lauded for their success, a kind of “See, it really is possible!” validation that keeps us working harder than ever. As wage inequality continues to rise, both in the United States and across the globe, these bright spots provide much-needed hope. Enter: Kanye West.
Just last month, the Chicago-born, Calabasas-based rapper/producer/pop icon interrupted his confusing endorsement of right wing figureheads to share his latest dream: YEEZY Home. An architectural firm that will live under the ever-expanding YEEZY umbrella, its mission statement seems directed at positive change, with West calling for “architects and industrial designers who want to make the world better.” Now, the collaborative effort between YEEZY Home, Petra Kustrin, Jalil Peraza, Nejc Škufca, and Vadik Marmeladov -- low income housing made with prefabricated concrete -- has been unveiled.
The initial renderings from the YEEZY Home team feature a beautiful brutalist structure complete with what looks like a modern take on a zen garden. While it’s hard to fault a charitable effort, and although low income housing doesn’t have to mean the uncomfortable structures we’ve become accustomed to, the building seems more focused on design than practicality.
Raised southwest of Chicago in the city’s Oak Lawn suburb, Kanye West had a middle class upbringing, and his meteoric rise has since afforded him the ability to give back. His most famous philanthropic effort, DONDA’s House, is a non-profit that works to provide “access and education from leading experts in the arts, culture & entertainment industry” for Chicago’s youth. However, recent documents show that Kanye removed himself from the charity in 2016. In fact, West might be better known for his statement during a Hurricane Katrina telethon than his own philanthropic efforts.
As much as West has been criticized of late for his support of President Donald Trump, it’s also important to remember the good he’s done -- and the good that he tries to do - even if the multi-talented “voice of this generation” doesn’t always make it easy for us. This is, after all, a fledgling effort to provide homes, and the stability they bring, to those in need. For now, we’ll have to sit tight as West and his growing team work on bringing their vision to life.